Staying Engaged, Finding Joy and Some Normalcy

Staying Engaged, Finding Joy and Some Normalcy

I keep a little bouquet of random blooms on the windowsill in the kitchen and it makes me happy every day.


I’d like to write more, for Cook With What You Have work and more of a personal journal where I can share anything. I use this space for both but since I’m not cooking as much these days it’s also my platform (as it was 6 years ago when I got sick the first time) for more personal matters. Today I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. This afternoon, I should say specifically, as this morning was a bit rough.


These days I sometimes have a hard time knowing/feeling what I should do with myself. I’m often quite fatigued, especially in the morning and go back to bed after seeing my son off to school and making his lunch–yes he could/should (?) make his own but I love making it for him. I do a lot of things lately with or for my son (and husband) that might be considered enabling or spoiling–the kid, not the hubby:)! But the thing is I don’t know how much time I have on this beautiful and flawed planet–the flawed part being the humans that inhabit this beautiful earth–and I want to take advantage of every moment I have to give my son a ride somewhere or make him a delicious after school snack and cinnamon toast before bed! 


I also have been writing less because it’s harder to express myself on the page these days. I have lots of–what I think are–interesting thoughts and questions but because of the struggles I have retaining and processing information (thanks full brain radiation!) I am plagued by short-term memory loss. So I regularly have a thought and 10 seconds later it’s gone and unretrievable. This makes coherent writing a bit of a challenge. But I’ve just decided that maybe I’ll write disjointed things and not worry so much about whether it makes sense to you, my dear readers. I want to stay connected and sharing my thoughts and experiences keeps me engaged in the world, that so often these days feels like it’s passing me by. 


And I love hearing from you all, your news and random thoughts keep me engaged and hopeful and forward moving. I am committing, with this post, to make my life more interesting by writing when it often feels completely run by cancer and its attendant challenges. And if you have questions about any of what I write, please ask. As you can probably tell I like sharing (not always but often). I’ve also been inspired to write more by Suleika Jaouad, author of Between Two Kingdoms: Memoir of a  Life Interrupted. Her journey with cancer, while different than mine has many similarities and I feel seen reading it. I highly recommend it even if, and maybe especially if you’re not struggling with serious illness. She’s an extraordinary writer and is going through her own recurrence now and her writing has deeply nourished me. 


All right dear ones, that’s it for today. More to come soon! 





54 thoughts on “Staying Engaged, Finding Joy and Some Normalcy”

  • Lynn Eve Komaromi says:

    Thank you for your update, Katherine. I always love reading your posts, so please keep writing, even if you think your writing might be disjointed. And keep spoiling the kid (and husband) – he needs it just as much as you do. Sending love from the Bay Area, where the other morning I took a walk by myself near the shore and watched two egrets fishing along the water. I felt so much gratitude for being the only soul to witness these two beautiful creatures in that moment…and here’s to you also feeling the gratitude for the small things we see every day. Like those blossoms on your windowsill. Love you, my friend.

  • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

    thanks so much Lynn Eve. So, the hubby needs spoiling as well. Thank you! And I love your egret moment. I do so appreciate all the beauty around me. xo

  • Katherine! So wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for sharing where you’re at! Flowers are where it’s at these days. I feel like this spring has been rough if only because of the weather (though of course it’s always other stuff too). The saving grace has been flowers! Pink petals covering cars, vibrant lilacs reaching over sidewalks, little yellow violets being so cute. Big hugs to you!

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      indeed Missy! The flowers are so gorgeous. There’s a church at the end of our block that has both a white and pink dogwood trees, big old ones, and they are just stunning with their dark trunks and bright blooms.

  • AnnTClark says:

    Dear Katherine
    Your post made me sad as well as grateful. I’ve so enjoyed your recipes, cooking classes and writing. Please share what you are comfortable sharing and I will read it. Blessings.

      • Patricia Flery says:

        Hi Katherine; While I know you only through your blog, I am and have been inspired by your writing, recipes, and journey. When I read your words I feel a deep loving kindness emanating from you.
        Thank you for uplifting me; sending heartful wishes for peace and grace on your journey.

  • Will jump on the phone soon again but wanted to also let you know that it is so inspiring to read your posts and mails … thank you Katherine.
    We miss you but as far away as we are, we feel so very connected to you and your two men.
    A lot is going on on this side of the ocean, a busy spring with work being done on our house and garden, we love it.
    Much love from Germany!

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      I look forward to a phone call soon and good luck with all the house work. We miss you but also feel very connected. Love you all!

  • Dear Katherine, thank you for your writing and sharing thoughts, hopes and fears with us! 2022 schenkt uns einen herrlichen Frühling mit duftendem weißen Flieder und blühenden Quittenbäumen vorm Fenster und ersten rosa Pfingtrosen. Gleichzeitig haben wir hier gerade sehr viel mit Corona zu tun und mit einem schrecklichen Krieg in unserer Nachbarschaft, der uns in seiner Brutalität alle sehr verstört und verängstigt – wie können Menschen sich so etwas antun?! Es braucht noch mehr Liebe, Zuwendung und friedvolle Unterstützung: DANKE, dass Du da bist und uns alle ermutigst! Sei umarmt –

  • Hi Katherine, I’m reading this from my mom’s house in Tennessee (she and my stepdad moved to the Knoxville area right before the pandemic). Peonies and irises are in full bloom here (did you know that the iris is the state flower of TN?) My mom refers to this area as a tropical rain forest – it certainly rains a lot and it’s very green. She knows the latin names of plants and flowers – and has been getting up to speed on the TN native varieties she was unfamiliar with in Texas. Last night she told me that Barbara Kingsolver lives “right over there” while pointing to Virginia (not too far from the Eastern Tennessee border).

    Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – and it’s why I’m here visiting from Seattle. We’re staying in and making brunch. Hopefully the weather will be sunny and we can be outside without raincoats. I will go back home on Monday morning wondering if it’s the last time I’ll see her, as she speaks of her pending death as casually as reciting a grocery list. I’m getting used to it – the idea, but trying to live in the present.

    Thank you, Katherine for posting this. I saw Elena W last month and I was so happy to see her I could hardly contain myself. I hope to get down to Portland in the next couple of months and would love to see you – if you are accepting visitors on your front porch or yard.

    Anyway, your vase of posies makes me happy, too.

  • I dreamt of you this morning. I have been a member of Pine Sound farm, a farm share in Brunswick, Maine. I am looking forward to the the 3rd year beginning in June. Part of what they share is a membership to your blog and recipes, both of which have inspired me! When I dream of something I know it (you) is important to me, but in this case not only me but the whole community who support you! You have inspired me! I wish you all the best! Paula

  • Hi Katherine, thank you for writing about your journey. I attended a class you taught many years ago and you opened my eyes to the joy of peering into the refrigerator and gathering from the bounty in my garden to create a meal for myself and those I love. It’s such a simple task in some ways, but so important to nourish those around you. Thank you for that gift. Be present in your day and know that your life has blessed the world in more ways than you’ll ever know. All blessings on your journey.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thank you so much for commenting, Mary. And I could not agree more about the joy of cooking for loved ones.

  • Jane Snyder says:

    Love to you and, of course, thanks to you for all of the ways you nourish the souls and bodies of those around you!
    Love and thanks

    Aunt Jane

  • Jill Brothers says:

    Nice to see this post this morning. Your son will al2ays remember the cinnamon toast his mom made him even though it might have been one of the bad days. Your husband will cherish it all.
    I think of you every time I try or don’t try a pie crust. I’ll get it one of these days. I think of you when planning a meal on meatless Monday. Your creative use of pure ingredients will always inspire me.
    God bless Katherine.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks, Jill! I’m so glad you continue to enjoy the recipes and spirit of Cook With What You Have.

  • TRICIA SNELL says:

    I love your writing. You’ve always written straight from your life and heart, and that’s why I and so many others love it. Please write on and share when the spirit moves you! I’m sending love back to you and hubby and son ♥️☺️!

  • Peggy Acott says:

    Katherine, I am always happy when I see your name in my inbox – I think of you often and try to channel your inspiration when I’m standing in front of an open refrigerator or pantry and wonder what I can come up with for dinner :-). I am grateful to read your words, be they about cooking or life and times.

    Now that the weather has warmed (a little), every day brings new things in the garden emerging or in bloom. It always feels so hopeful, this time of year, watching the progress of new green shoots pushing through the soil, unfurling their leaves. The lilacs and camas and dogwood in full bloom are an annual joy.
    Big virtual hugs to you – Peggy

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks so much Peggy and I wholeheartedly agree about this time of year and the wonder all the beauty inspires.

  • Jim Laden says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post, which left me both melancholy and inspired as this Mother’s Day weekend starts. I agree…keep spoiling those two guys just as much as you have spoiled so many people with your food, recipes and the smile that you wrap around both. Your willingness to take the cheese out of everything for me still sits with me years later as your kindness in action. Thanks for sharing and stay strong.

  • Jennifer (Watson) Schreck says:

    Beautiful Katherine,
    Please keep sharing your powerful voice. It’s a gift for all of us who care, no matter your strength.
    And by all means, if doing things for your sweet boy and husband bring YOU joy then don’t think twice or feel any bit of guilt about it. We all need to catch joy whenever and however we can.
    Cheering you on with lots of love💙

  • Thanks for this today! It helps me get more clear on something I’ve been going through w/my kids, too. My older kid at 19 has lived out of the house for 9 mo, and his sister at 17 is graduating a year early from high school and also can’t wait to launch into unstructured next steps. I cherish each chance I get to do something big or small for them. Their want of independence gives me fewer chances than I had before. I think about all of this frequently.

    Your post reminds me that I also don’t know how much longer I have on this planet, and that it’s not just that the kids are shifting away, but that we just don’t know what each day holds, and how long we have to do anything that we love. So it’s best to choose wisely and to cherish acts of love and connection.

    My parents are coming for Mother’s Day this weekend. My mom is in the early stages of dementia, which is another interesting harbinger of limited time. I’ll get the opportunity to make two meals for my mom. I have to say that sometimes I let the baggage of previous issues sneak into our meal experiences. But your post is a reminder to me that I can choose to do something that I love (prepare food), with the same spirit with which I offer that love and care to my kids.

    Each day that we are blessed with carries opportunity for love and connection. Thanks for shifting me to this tender spot to see this more clearly this morning.

    Sending you much love across the neighborhoods to you and your family. ((hugs))

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      OH thank you EB for this lovely comment. Yes, the parenting challenges and joys are a daily reminder of and opportunity to practice mindfulness and enjoy our time with them.

  • Marion Sproul says:

    Dearest Katherine, You have been the little vase of random blooms in the window sill for many of us over the years, THANKYOU!!!!!
    Keep writing and keep loving.
    xoxo, Marion

  • Marion Sproul says:

    Dearest Katherine,
    You have been the little vase of random flowers in the window sill for us for many years!! THANKYOU!!!
    Keep writing and keep loving.
    Love, Marion

  • Dear Katherine,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Your thoughts are far from disconnected and fragmented. Instead, your writing is an illuminating distillation of all that you are going through—and all that you’ve been through. We are the fortunate ones, having the chance to read your words and experience. You are an extraordinary person. You inspire all of us in different ways, even when you have little energy for the day and what it holds. It’s lovely that you are putting your attention and care toward Ellis and Brian. Know that I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

    I’ve been thinking of you, too, because Michael and I are redoing our kitchen. Trading in our very small kitchen for a slightly larger kitchen with an island and getting electrical appliances. Due to the inflated costs, we are managing the project ourselves (with a pair of workers who are really great). So far, so good. 🙂 I love you. And I think of you often. And when you have the energy, please write. Your words are lifting us up, too, with your wisdom and experience. Much love, Kirk

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks for your sweet note, Kirk. It’s so affirming to hear from so many of you–also a reason to keep writing:)! Good luck with your kitchen project. I hope it turns out beautifully. Kitchens are fun:)!

  • Carol A. Hanna says:

    I recently finished listening to the audiobook of Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms (Suleika is a marvelous narrator!) and found it to be one of the most life affirming and honest books I have read in a long while. For me, its core message is connection and the myriad ways that we hold others in our lives. Thank you for summoning the energy to connect with us through your writing and cooking. It enriches our lives. Today, I am going to bake your rhubarb yogurt cake! “Cook with what you have” is always my first “go to” for meal inspiration. I appreciate the creativity and joy you have brought to my kitchen. Cooking, like life, is so much more than a recipe or list or a plan. Sending much gratitude for the soul you offer to us in our daily endeavors. Fondly, Carol PS: Have you seen the magnificent dogwood trees now in bloom in PDX? A gift of joy!

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Oh the dogwoods are magnificent. Maybe they’re even more striking against the grey skies that seem so prevalent these days. And thanks for being such a loyal reader and cook-with-what-you-have cook.

  • Renee Niquette says:

    HI Katherine,
    Think of you each time I pull up any saved recipe ideas from the little classes attended in your kitchen (in fact I need to make the Veggie broth again, I use it all the time). It seems like a long time ago and I still miss them. The these past covid years seem to mess with my sense of time too.
    I admire you for your strength and courage and beauty of sharing. Your thoughts do not seem disjointed at all. OR because my thoughts are here, there and everywhere at the same time, it seems quite normal to me. 🙂
    Love the bright spot of flowers in your window. Here I have a vase of the Apricot colored tulips, one of my favorite flowers.
    I wish you more time to spoil your family and a Happy Mother’s Day too. I am sure you will in turn be spoiled as you should be.

    Wishing you more good days than bad, do keep writing,
    Renee Niquette

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks so much, Renee. It’s fun to think back on the classes you took here. I hope you’re doing well and yes, I’ve been enjoying the flours so much.

  • Katherine,
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts about what makes you feel good. I agree whole heartedly that one should prioritize giving love to one’s self with the the joys of spring moving from outside to a cozy spot inside. I relate to how grounding it feels to prepare a sandwich or tea for a loved one. I think about how important offering food is across the globe as a gesture of peace, celebration, community, and love.
    I hear what you are saying about the frustration of memory loss. Keep being beautiful and doing what your heart calls you to do. I hope this will soon be behind you.
    All my best, keri

  • Alex Stone says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. Keep cooking and loving your family. We, your cooking family, love you very much and savor your writing.
    Love, Alex

  • Tina Bucher says:

    Katherine, I always enjoy what you write. I enjoy your authenticity about your journey. In reading some of above comments I noticed many people had the same thought as I did, keep spoiling your husband and son!! 😊 You won’t regret it!
    I’m sorry about the memory loss, I’m sure that’s frustrating. ❤️❤️ You are a beautiful soul and I’m thankful to still have your influence in my life. I am praying for you my friend.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks so much for your note Tina. It’s wonderful to hear from you. And I so appreciate the prayers and good wishes. Keep ’em coming! Love, K

  • Dave and Margie says:

    We have always enjoyed your writing and look forward to everything else you write and do in the future. Please continue and know you are in our thoughts

  • Thanks for sharing, Katherine. It’s so nice to hear from you and feel connected even just for a moment and even through digital means. I don’t often use Facebook myself so it was meant to be when I logged on for other reasons and this was at the top of my feed! Thinking of you, sending lots of love from Michigan.

  • Hi Katherine- thanks for staying engaged. I always enjoy reading your posts. Wishing you many many more good days where you can do things you love that make you thrive. 💕

  • Chris Pieratti says:

    Dear Katherine, You have always been an inspiration from the early days of Slow Food here to your wonderful CWWYH philosophy. I am reminded of it every time I cook. I read cookbooks for inspiration and the pictures, then open the fridge door and start to cook. Your writing is beautiful and heart-deep. Thank you for sharing your journey, thoughts and reminders of the care we need to lavish on our loved ones. Take care, Chris

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